By David Swanson
Liberal columnist Marie Cocco maintains her progressive positions right up to the point where she might diverge in the slightest from the Democratic leadership in Congress. Last spring she wasn’t so noticeable. Most progressive pundits back in March and May were playing right along with the pretense that the Democrats in Congress didn’t have the power to end the occupation of Iraq. This was and is simply not true.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid could announce that the House and Senate will no longer bring to a vote any bills to fund anything other than withdrawal. It would take 218 signatures on a discharge petition to force a bill to the floor of the House without Pelosi’s approval. It is unlikely enough Democrats would oppose their party to fund Bush’s war in that way, especially if Pelosi lobbied them to end the occupation the way she’s whipped them into funding it. In the Senate, Reid alone could refuse to bring a bill to the floor, and 41 senators could filibuster any funding bill.
Increasingly, voices in the progressive media are acknowledging what Congressman Dennis Kucinich has been saying for the past year: the way to end the occupation is not by passing a bill but by refusing to pass a bill. Even progressive writers who appeared to mindlessly line up behind Pelosi last spring (such as David Sirota) have admirably denounced what she is doing now. But not Marie Cocco. She now stands out as the leading syndicated columnist still pushing Matt Stoller’s argument that the Republicans, although in the minority, control the Congress.
Stoller’s argument is that some of the Democrats agree more with Republican positions, whereas none of the Republicans agree with Democratic positions. But this ignores the significance of having the majority. It’s not just a question of numbers, but of holding the reins of leadership, chairing every committee, and determining what does or does not come up for a vote.
The argument that there exists a secret Republican majority is also framed by the idea that the Congress needs to pass bills, any bills, at all costs. But we’ve known since last November that there would be no point in passing bills, since any decent bills would be vetoed, and only horrendous ones would be signed into law. We’ve known since last November that Congress had two possible moves it could make and no others: announce the end of the occupation of Iraq, and impeach the criminal president and vice president.
Cocco is still catching up to this state of affairs. Her October 2, 2007, column is called Republicans Still Running Things and begins:
“Voters put Democrats in control of both houses of Congress last fall and for this act of civic determination, they face an infuriating conundrum. Republicans are still running things.”
Cocco goes on to explain why this supposedly is so. And her explanation twists Stoller’s upside-down.
“The Democratic gains in the 2006 congressional elections means there are fewer Republican moderates — they were thrown out of office, particularly in the Northeast and Midwest, making those regions bluer. This makes it nearly impossible to cobble together a bloc of swing Republican moderates needed, say, to override a presidential veto of an enormously popular bill to provide health care to kids.”
So, let that be a lesson to you: we were better off when we had more Republican moderates in Congress, or at least we would be if we had a Democratic majority, but a slimmer one with more Republican moderates. Because moderate Republicans are more likely to vote with Pelosi than moderate Democrats.
Is it really necessary to point out how insane this is? While Stoller blames the rightward leaning Democratic members, Cocco blames the absence of leftward leaning Republicans. What they agree on is that no matter how bad things get, Nancy Pelosi must not be blamed.
Sadly, Nancy Pelosi is in fact a fallible human being, one who is dramatically failing to lead from the position of leadership with which we have entrusted her.